Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Chemical Spills, Beijing Plant Ban, Enbridge

by | Jan 22, 2014

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, have written the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, a bill aimed at ensuring industrial facilities are properly inspected by state officials. Inspired by the January 9 chemical spill in West Virginia, the bill also sets minimum standards for industry-developed emergency response plans. The senators plan to introduce the legislation when Congress returns later this month. Meanwhile West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin proposed legislation to create an above-ground storage tank regulation program in the state, the Logan Banner reports.

Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical leaks led to a drinking water ban for 300,000 West Virginians earlier this month, has told federal and state investigators that a second chemical was in the leaking tank. The MCHM that leaked also included PPH, The HIll reports. West Virginia American Water Co. said its treatment would likely have removed the chemical from drinking water, but additional testing is underway.

The Federal Railroad Administration has known about problems with crude oil shipments, such as overloading, mislabeling of highly flammable material and sub-standard train cars, since as far back as autumn 2011, an NBC News investigation found. That predates a series of fiery crashes including the Quebec derailment that killed 47 people in July 2013.

Beijing will ban new oil refining, steel, cement and thermal power plants in the city along with the expansion of existing plants, starting in March, Reuters reports. The city has also committed to cut PM 2.5 emissions by 5 percent this year.

A report by Beijing’s Central University of Finance and Economics said that China must raise spending on emissions cuts and clean tech by 2 trillion yuan ($330 billion) to do its part to stop climate change, Reuters reports.

New Germany energy minister Sigmar Gabriel said a shift to clean energy has the potential to be an economic success, but also to cause “dramatic de-industrialization.” He said that annual consumer costs for renewables of about €24 billion ($32.5 billion) were at the limit of what the German economy could handle. Gabriel is due to present Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new cabinet with major proposed changes to German energy law today, the New York Times reports.

Four percent of world GDP may be needed from now to 2030 to keep global warming at safe levels, according to a draft UN report, Bloomberg says. The leaked report, once published, is meant to influence UN negotiations on global warming.

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